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One on Idols

Statue of Jefferson Davis before it was toppled in Richmond. Davis looks out from a column that reads JEFFERSON DAVIS PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA 1861-1865 his left hand rests on an open book on a small column and his right hand reaches out with its palm outstretched
https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/06/11/874565394/protesters-topple-jefferson-davis-statue-in-richmond-va

Erections
Reductions
Monoliths

Stalin
Mao
Hussein

Enshrined
Then
Toppled

Graven Images
Golden Calves
Wasted Worship

Washington
Madison
Grant

Thomas
Jefferson
Davis

Lee
Sherman
Stonewall

Tear
Them
Down

Raise
One nation
Indivisible

https://www.wweek.com/news/2020/06/20/portland-man-describes-tearing-down-thomas-jefferson-statue-its-not-vandalism/

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We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.

I know those words by heart
As well as I know the 23rd Psalm
As well as I know my favorite poem
I have known them since childhood

And I can quote, too, from memory
The Declaration that preceded it

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Ideals immediately betrayed
And never fully reconciled

Fannie Lou Hamer told us plainly:
Nobody’s free until everyone’s free

Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed
Injustice anywhere
is a threat to justice everywhere—
an inescapable network of mutuality

We killed him for naming
That fatal foundational flaw

We congratulated ourselves
When we elected one black man to lead us
While we incarcerated nearly 600,000 others
We pretended we had erased centuries of slavery

We ignored the tremors from the fault line
Running through our foundation

But the system carefully structured
To preserve the illusion of liberty and equality
Finally dropped all pretense—

Despite the will of the people
Placed a despot in power

The threatened earthquake followed
We saw the foundation crack
And the lava of hate and hypocrisy
Spewed forth at last
Closing borders
Colluding with foreign enemies
Abandoning long alliances
A tide of terror lit by torches
Willing to kill its opposition

And he saw it, and called it good

Wealth and whiteness
Stopped pretending
Those sworn to uphold the Constitution
Openly abandoned the rule of law
For the preservation of their own power

It was always going to come to this

The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.

Abraham Lincoln wrote those words
Notes in a speech for his famous debates with Douglas
Following his defense of preserving slavery where it existed
Without allowing it to spread further
Hypocrisy infected our noblest heroes
Were they blinded to their own contamination too?

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Langston Hughes cried out
American never was
His lament far more eloquent than mine
Go read it instead
Or Maya Angelou’s
Proud declarations…leaves on the wind

While we let this truth sink in deep:
None of us was ever free
None of us was ever equal
None of us ever received justice

Maybe America can be made again
As Langston Hughes suggested
Maybe there can be justice for all
Maybe we can all be free
But today is not that day
Today is a day for tears
Today is a day for mourning
Today is a day to sit in the truth
Of what we never were

America never was America to me.

Not for any of us

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The Psalms tell us that King David prayed
after he was called out for his sin
in taking Bathsheba from her husband,
a soldier who served him faithfully
to his own death on David’s orders

And our own sin now resounds in our ears
in the cries of our neighbors
chanting at one who serves us faithfully

SEND HER BACK

SEND HER BACK

SEND HER BACK

So, have mercy on us, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out our transgressions

Wash us thoroughly from our iniquity,
and cleanse us from our sin,
For we know our transgressions,
and our sins are ever before us
and before those we sin against
and before the nations of the world
as we proclaim ourselves to be your followers
but we chant exclusion
and pretend superiority
and grasp to keep that which was never ours
while we lock little children in cages
away from the parents who love them
and proclaim ourselves a nation of family values
who honors the Lord

Against you, you alone, have we sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.

We were born guilty
conceived in the sin of enslaving others
who were made in Your image
pretending we could deny their humanity
and use their labor for our convenience and profit
leveraging your holy Scriptures
to hold your children in bondage
punishing those who sought the freedom promised
in our proclamations of our ideals

You desire truth in our inward being;
so teach us wisdom in our secret hearts
Purge us with hyssop
And force us to cough up
the bile that rises
from our inmost being
poisoning us from within

Breath into us your holy breath so we will be clean
Cleanse us so that we may see your image in each other

Create in us a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within us
Do not cast us away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from us
Restore to us the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in us a willing spirit.

A spirit that sees the hungry and would feed them
A spirit that sees the wounded and would heal them
A spirit that sees needs and moves to meet them
Regardless of the cost or the inconvenience
Regardless of how we judge the worthiness
Of the hungry or the wounded or the needy

Then we will teach transgressors your ways,
because we will be following your ways ourselves
instead of insisting that the ways of sin are holy
and other sinners will return to you as we have

Even our leaders and the chanting crowds will repent
and turn from their wickedness to love justice and mercy
and follow your commands

Deliver us from bloodshed, O God, O God of our salvation,
and our tongues will sing aloud of your deliverance

Set the captives free again as you have so many times before

O Lord, open our lips,
and our mouths will declare your praise
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if we were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.

You have told us what sacrifice is acceptable to you:
a broken spirit
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Make the world new again in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of your holy city, and provide a place of safety and freedom
for those fleeing wickedness and violence and harm
Then take delight in our right sacrifices, as we attune our ears to those who cry out

As we hear those who wait patiently for you to hear them
and to draw them out of the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set their feet upon a rock,
making their steps secure.
As we hear those who plead with you not to withhold your mercy
or your steadfast love or your faithfulness
as evils encompass them without number

As we listen for those who cry out to you for deliverance and for help

For those who are poor and needy,
may we become your help and deliverance without delay.

May they who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the Lord!”

As we proclaim, “Here we are;
In the scroll of the book it is written of us
We delight to do your will, O God;
your law is within our hearts
We proclaim the glad news of deliverance
We have not hidden your saving help within our hearts
We have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
We have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation!”

As we join our voices and shout:

WELCOME HOME

WELCOME HOME

WELCOME HOME

Amen.

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On the Beginning

When Aslan sang the world into being
Durga rode on his back
Breathing through labor pangs

Aaaaaaah
Oooooooo
Mmmmmmmm

Her OM resonated
Rippled out
As Nammu
Lost to time
Source and Creative One
Exhaled divine sounds
Birthing primordial being

Waves expanding
Pouring out and over
Filling
Saturating
Particles, atoms
Organized by their vibrations

Spinning launched dancing
Molecules clustered
Into cells
Forming drums
Receiving
Channeling
Reverberating
Interpreting

In the beginning
Was a sound
That became flesh

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I Am Not Ruined

26477_378151265951_6321932_n

I am not ruined and you are not either
They lied when they told us
Our most precious part was our purity
That never having been touched
Guarding our hearts and our bodies
Was the Most Important Thing
Our bodies and our purity
Were own honor
And the honor of our families as well

I am not ruined and you are not either
The most precious part of us
Is untouchable essence
Made in the image of the divine

I am not ruined and you are not either
It did not ruin us
When we gave ourselves to them
When they took things
To which they were not entitled
To which we never consented
They did not ruin us
When we were groped
Or assaulted
Or raped
Or consented to make out
Or have sex
Or have everything except technically sex
With those we loved
Or those we liked
Or those we wanted in that moment and never again

I am not ruined and you are not either
Sex does not ruin us
Pleasure does not define us
Violence does not reach our core
Honor is more than what our bodies do
Or do not do
Far more than what is done to us

I am not ruined and you are not either
They do not have the power to ruin us
They do not have the power to stop us from rising up
They do not have the power to prevent us
From owning our power
From making our own choices
From overcoming our mistakes
And theirs
From living into and through
Our choices and their choices
The choices that are taken from us
The choices they make for us
The choices we make for ourselves
The choices we are never allowed to even consider

I am not ruined and you are not either
We are on a constant trajectory
Toward growth
And hope
And love
And learning
And forgiveness of ourselves
Sometimes even of them
Every day we choose that trajectory

I am not ruined and you are not either
By the days we choose a different path
By the days the depth
Of depravity
Of humanity
Pulls us down
And we sink into the mire

I am not ruined and you are not either
We rise again
We pull each other up
We find our way forward

I am not ruined and you are not either
Despite the sins committed against us
When we were 20 or 15 or 10
When they took what we did not choose to give
Took more than we offered
Took what we had been told
Was our most precious part

We are not ruined
You and I
Our survival testifies to our own power
Our strength proclaims the meaning of Love
Our vitality demonstrates how healing is possible
And that we are not ruined
Excuses nothing
Those who abused us
Who stole from us
Who raped us
Their crimes are not less
Because we have become more

I am not ruined and you are not either
We refuse to shrug off their hands
We turn and point
We name their crimes
We proclaim ever more loudly
Our disgust, our disdain
With their malfeasance
With their excuses about the nature of testosterone
Of the minds of men and boys
With their false notions of masculinity

I am not ruined and you are not either
They cannot ruin us
The spark of the divine within us is feminine
Is Wisdom shouting aloud in the streets
Insisting she will be heard
We add our voices
To the cacophony of the ages
Of the quiet voices
Of the punished voices
Of the voices called liars
Of the voices muted entirely
Their stories are the bass note
And we reverberate with their truth

I am not ruined and you are not either
We speak and sing and pray our truth
Reverberating together
Together our starlight
Joins our darkness
Our bodies stand up
And march
And dance
We become one with each other

We are not ruined
We are made in the image of the divine
We are one
We are healed and healing
We are whole
We stand on the ruins of their honor
And proclaim our victory over their lies
I am not ruined
And you are not either

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God,

The world is full of such suffering and so much beauty

We so want to decrease the former and expand the latter

It is so hard to know what is ours to do

And what we can leave to others

It is hard to sleep some nights

Knowing how much there is left to do

How many there are

Still suffering

Still hungry

Still imprisoned

Still separated from family and home and peace

But we know the Scriptures include this about Jesus:

When it got to be too much
He got into a boat
And sailed away
And the crowds followed Him with their eyes
Hundreds of them
Thousands
Hungry for more
They would have wrung Him out entirely
They hung on his every word
Drained Him dry
Absorbed anything?
Hard to say how much
They were waiting for Him to act
To make their lives better
He pulled away
Escaped
To sleep
To relax
To be renewed
With a few friends in a boat
A meal and conversation
He explained
I do only what I see
My Father doing
Even with the ability to work miracles
He didn’t heal all of them
He didn’t speak to everyone
He didn’t touch each one who pressed in close
He walked through towns and the countryside
He chose some
But not others
Were these boundaries?
Practicalities born of humanity?
An example for those of us coming later?
What was that withdrawal?
Because in the end…
In the end there were no boundaries
In the end, every person He hadn’t healed
Every person who waited for His words
Every person He hadn’t touched
Received His ultimate sacrifice
Maybe, partially, uncomfortably
What it means
Is that we can’t just connect the dots
Follow the rules
We can’t simultaneously withdraw
And give everything we have
Maybe it only makes sense
While we do this part in the middle
Watch for what the Father is doing
Reach out in tandem with Him
Join in His program already in progress
Otherwise, we’ll never know
When to walk away from the crowd
And when to lay our lives down
For our friends

So may we watch

May we find the places to work

May we find the silence to connect with the divine

May we work for justice and mercy and beauty and grace

Amen

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Protected: One I Didn’t Send

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One for Home and Love

This time of year

No matter where I am

I am homesick

Wrestling with staying present

And making room for the ache

So, today, I am praying

For all of us

For those whose people

Are scattered far and wide

For those who are far from home

In service or adventure

For those missing loved ones

Newly gone this year or

Long absent from holiday tables

For those whose people are a little too close

And have a little too much togetherness

May we look for the silver lining

Searching for the best

Giving the benefit of the doubt

Even when it seems so unlikely deserved

May we work through the moments of awkwardness

And imperfect relationships

Disappointment and pain

May we notice the moments

Of grace and peace and mercy

May we create those moments ourselves

And recognize the efforts of others to create them

May we treasure them deeply in our hearts

May we remember the suffering

May our eyes open to new ways

To bring healing and light and joy

May we remember the baby born in Bethlehem

The One who held together humanity and divinity—

The One who always was and always is and ever shall be

Love come down

The One who calls us to be Love as well

May we recognize every opportunity

To wrestle well with the hard things

To find the best way forward

To honor and love and trust and hope

May we live our way ever more deeply

Into the Way of the One
That has come and keeps coming

Our senses ever more aware of the thin places

Where heaven meets earth

And we are home

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One for Jen

Cove.jpg

We were Florida girls
That Maine water cold on our feet
We hesitated to fully immerse
But we recounted the story of Edith
Like fiction
She, with her New England grit,
Plunged in daily
Stroked across to the far shore’s tree line
Strong in the waves and current
Conquering the elements
There and back again
Safe and stronger
Her blood runs in your veins

Jen.jpg

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One on standing up

trump

These words today
On my way back from
A meeting in Chapel Hill
On a wall on a Chinese restaurant
Near one of my favorite bookstores

I’m not sure about the graffiti on top
Echoed on the dumpster of the gas station
Across the street
But “Kill Trump” reads clearly
Wrong-headed and unAmerican
(A label I generally despise)

Oppose Trump, yes.
March in the streets, if that’s your thing.
Protest his every action, if you must.
Hold him accountable to the constitution
He has not yet sworn to uphold
By whose authority we elected him.

But do not threaten violence.
Do not deface property.
Do no harm, and permit no harm to be done.

 

Remember Keisha Thomas
Who used her black body like a shield
Protecting a man wearing a symbol
Of oppressing black bodies
Refusing to allow violence against him
Even from – especially from – those on her side.

keisha-thomas

 

Remember Amina Amdeen
Who proudly wore her hijab
As she stood up between attackers
And a giant protester carrying a sign
Declaring himself “Proud to be Deplorable”
Protected by her loud voice and her tiny body

joseph-weidknecht

Take them as your example.
Protest, yes. But do it peacefully.
Disagree loudly and proudly and insistently
But do it without violence.

And if others refuse to do so,
Put yourself in harms’ way to
Insist on peace and nonviolence.

Stay on the high road.
Cling to the right way.
Scream and yell your anger.
Lament and wail your sadness.
Speak up and speak out and
Stand up tall – get in the way.

But every time
Go high when others go low.
Even when those others
Are on your “side.”
Especially then.
Stand tall. Stand up.
Every time.

Deplorable photo credit: 
http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/lt/lt_cache/thumbnail/728/img/photos/2016/11/14/59/dd/Joseph-Weidknecht.jpg

 

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